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Wind company wants met tower in county





With little visible wind development progress made in Ellis County throughout the last several years, efforts to move forward with the Buckeye Wind Energy LLC project are under way.

The Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a public hearing on a conditional-use permit for a meteorological tower at its 7 p.m. Wednesday meeting at 601 Main in Hays.

The tower is proposed to be located on the east side of Hyacinth Avenue between Buckeye and Severin roads.

According to Kelly Meyer, director of business development for Chicago-based Invenergy Wind Energy LLC, of which Buckeye Wind is a wholly-owned subsidiary, Invenergy remains committed to the Ellis County project.

Besides applying for the permit for an additional meteorological tower, Invenergy is continuing environmental studies in Ellis County.

"We've also begun survey work to support a CUP application for the project itself," Meyer said in an email. "In addition, we actively are seeking a power marketing agreement."

Ellis County commissioners signed a resolution in May 2011 that changed required setbacks from 10 times the tip height to 1,000 feet, eliminated noise level restrictions and reduced the notification and protest petition area from 2,000 to 1,000 feet.

Slow progress on wind development projects isn't confined to Ellis County. Wind companies throughout the U.S. have been hit hard in the last several years with weak demand for electricity, competition from low-priced natural gas and the threat of the expiration of a federal tax credit set for the end of this year.

During Wednesday's meeting, commissioners also will be updated on progress of the Fort Hays State University wind generator conditional-use permit.

The planning and zoning commission voted in June to approve the permit for two 2.1-megawatt Suzlon wind turbines to be located approximately 3.5 miles south of FHSU. The turbines are projected to provide 97 percent of FHSU's electrical needs.